MY SAY: Beware of old Scammer Claus

AT THIS time of year, European and Asian criminal gangs target our big-spending appetites.

Here's 10 things you need to know about Scammer Claus to ensure those naughty crims don't upset your nice:

1. Update software: Online shopping is as safe as you are. We can expect a lot more Christmas viruses being targeted towards these devices. So download and update anti-virus software on all devices connected online.

2. Watch your cards: Beware the "skim”. This can happen when you lose sight of your credit card and a skimmed card is valuable to criminals offshore.

3. Be discreet: Not all crooks apply their trade online. Some prefer the break-and-enter. Social media is often a useful place house burglars use to find out whether the holiday season has taken you away.

4. Be prepared: Let a trusted neighbour know to keep an eye on the place if you travel. Avoid a build-up of mail or bins left on the street for collection.

5. Protect documents: If you go away, don't leave your birth certificates, passports, banking and super details in the study drawer or filing cabinet if they can't be locked. Even if they can, think of alternative hiding places - Scammer Claus knows where to look!

6. Remove or encrypt: If you're not taking laptops with you, remove all personal information you shouldn't keep on them - like scans of your licence and passport. If you need them on these devices password protect the files (encrypt them).

7. Give cautiously: Unfortunately charities have their identity stolen too. So be careful who comes knocking on your door (physically and online). Do your checking before committing your money and don't feel pressured into making decisions.

8. Ask family: If you're unsure about an email or a phone call, talk to your family and friends about it. So many scams can be avoided by talking to someone before you act.

9. Christmas care: Read the terms and conditions before you enter competitions. It's amazing where our personal information can go. If you're not convinced or the terms and conditions aren't explicit, it's better to save you the pain of adding to your telemarketing calls and inbox.

10. Watch your bills: Check your card expenditure. Look for anything that may have snuck into Scammer Claus' sack full of toys you didn't authorise. Most banks are pretty good at responding to these things but looking for it isn't going to hurt things.

Above all, enjoy yourself and have a great Christmas by ensuring Scammer Claus doesn't.

Professor David Lacey is Managing Director of IDCARE and a Professor in Cyber Security at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

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